Put something on the back burner

When you put something on the back burner, you put it on hold to deal with at a later time. You could put something on the back burner because it’s not important, it’s not urgent, or you just don’t have the time or resources to deal with it at the moment. Regardless of the reason, if you put something on the back burner, you have judged it to be low priority.

We use this expression when we want to delay dealing with something in the present, but still consider it for the future. We usually use it when talking about how to prioritize multiple tasks or responsibilities. For example:

  • We had to put project X on the back burner while we wait for our new budget to be approved.
  • Ok, team. Let’s put this issue on the back burner. We have more important problems to deal with right now.

A. How are your home renovations going, Sarah? 
B. Well, my husband and I have been super busy with work lately so unfortunately we’ve had to put our renovations on the back burner for now.

Did you know? This expression relates to cooking. A burner is where the heat comes from on a stove. If you put a pot on the back burner, it could be because it needs less attention than the pots that are on the front burners.